So you’re considering dental implants, or perhaps you’ve already decided to have an implant placed. What happens now? For some people, the thought of implant surgery seems scary and intimidating but it doesn’t have to be. Knowing how a tooth implant is done can go a long way to allaying any fears you may have.
So, let’s dive in and take a closer look at every aspect of getting a tooth implant. Your dentist will discuss with you beforehand the type of dental implants, he or she will be using, and the costs involved.
Firstly, what is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a metal post, usually made from titanium, that is surgically placed into the jawbone by your dentist or an oral surgeon. It acts as a replacement tooth root and is topped with a natural-looking dental crown to restore the aesthetics of your smile.
To know if you’re a suitable candidate for dental implants, your dentist will first check the density of your bone using a dental X-ray and/or CT scan. Like natural teeth, dental implants rely on the support of bone to keep them securely in place, so it’s vital that your bone is both healthy and sufficient for the implant to stand the best chance of success.
What if I don’t have enough bone?
When teeth are lost, the bone that once supported them begins to dissolve back into the body. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for a person who has had missing teeth for some while, to not have sufficient bone to give the tooth implant the support it needs.
In cases like this, a dentist will often be able to perform a bone graft to increase the density of the existing bone, but naturally, this adds additional time and cost to the overall dental implant treatment.
Once it’s been determined that you are a suitable candidate to undergo a tooth implant procedure, we’ll be able to discuss an appointment for your surgery.
How long does it take to get dental implants?
There are several factors which determine the length of implant treatment and these include:
- Your dental health
- How many teeth are involved
- Which teeth are replaced
- Whether a tooth needs to be extracted prior to implant placement
Restoring your smile with dental implants is usually done in two phases and from start to finish can take between 6 and 9 months.
So, if you’re in a rush to replace your teeth, this may not be an option for you.
It’s all in the planning
Before surgery goes ahead, our dentist and the team will spend several hours planning the surgery and this is likely to involve more X-rays.
Using a combination of X-rays and cone-beam CT scans we can locate the exact position of vital structures including the sinus cavities and nerves as well as adjacent tooth roots and soft tissues. Not only does this preparation help avoid any unpleasant surprises during surgery, but it makes the dental implants procedure safer and faster for the patient.
How a Tooth Implant is Done – The Surgery
The surgery is performed in the dental clinic under local anaesthetic, although some patients may prefer to have dental sedation if that’s an option offered by their dentist.
The first phase
Your mouth is numbed with a local anaesthetic and a small incision is made in the gum to expose the jaw bone beneath. A precision drill is then used to create a small hole (or holes in the case of multiple implants) and then the implants are inserted into the jaw. Sometimes, although not always, an abutment is placed on top of the post at this time, which will eventually hold the dental crown in place. The gums are then closed with sutures over the implant.
Does it hurt?
You won’t feel any pain, although you may experience a little discomfort. It depends on the number of dental implants you are receiving, where they are in the mouth, and the complexity of your treatment.
Most patients tell us that it wasn’t as bad as having a tooth extracted. Typically, with a simple single implant most people are back to feeling like themselves in one to two days. For more complex surgery, patients should expect to need several days off work to recover.
The waiting game
Thankfully, the part you may have been dreading is over and done with. Now, you’re free to go home and wait for a process known as osseointegration to take place. This is where the magic happens, and your body grows new tissue around the implant(s) to hold it securely in place and make it a permanent fixture in the mouth – just like your natural teeth! Depending on the individual this can take anywhere from 3 to 5 months. Once this has happened, you’re ready for the next step in the procedure.
The second phase
After bone fusion is complete you’ll return to the dental clinic to have a mould of your jaw and teeth made. This is used to create your dental crown(s) which sit on top of the dental implants posts.
After a couple of weeks, you’ll be called back to the dental clinic to have your dental crowns or bridge fitted and finally, your new smile is complete.
Perhaps the best thing about Dental implants is that they function just like real teeth. They allow you to smile with confidence and eat all your favourite foods. Provided you brush and floss thoroughly and visit your dentist for regular six-monthly check-ups, your dental implants have the potential to last for many years to come. You can check out our post about the best water flossers if you’re interested in testing it out.
So now you know how a tooth implant is done, are you ready to take the next step? Why not book an initial consultation by calling 02 9051 0600 and come and speak to the friendly team at Dental 266.
We use the highest quality implants and are proud to have one of Sydney’s best dental implants dentists on board.